Category Archives: Polling

South Carolina, Tomorrow

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president, Joe Biden

Feb. 28, 2020 — Former vice president Joe Biden appears on the cusp of winning tomorrow’s South Carolina Democratic primary. His polling has greatly improved, and momentum looks to be on his side.

For more than a year, Biden has enjoyed strong leads in South Carolina but his poor performance in Iowa and New Hampshire, with a slight rebound in Nevada, had caused his Palmetto State margins to tighten. One poll, from Change Research on Feb. 12-14, forecast Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) lapsing into a tie.

Four closing polls were released yesterday, giving Biden leads of between 4 and 28 points, but it is the former poll that seems to be the anomaly. Change Research (Feb. 23-27; 543 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters) projects Biden leading Sen. Sanders and billionaire Tom Steyer, 28-24-16 percent, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) lagging behind with a 12 percent preference factor. Under this poll, the top three finishers would qualify for delegate apportionment.

On the other hand, Emerson College (Feb. 26-27; 425 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters) and Monmouth University (Feb. 23-25; 454 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters) come much closer to Starboard Communications’ (Feb. 26; 1,102 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters; online) 28-point spread line.

Starboard projects Biden leading 40-12-11 percent over Steyer and Sanders. Emerson finds him holding a 17-point lead, while Monmouth posts the former VP to a 20-point advantage. Both Emerson and Starboard find Biden touching the 40 percent mark. Biden’s large leads fail to prevent the Change Research and Monmouth polls from projecting that three of the candidates would earn a share of South Carolina’s 54 first-ballot delegate allotment, however.

To estimate a reasonable delegate count, the Monmouth poll finds a 36-16-15 percent spread for Biden, Sanders, and Steyer. If this poll proved most accurate, the delegate split would approximately be 29-13-12, consecutively, assuming the seven congressional district totals turned in similar ratios.

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Super Tuesday State Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 28, 2020 — While the Democratic presidential primaries have dominated the political media coverage for next Tuesday’s big election, five states are also holding their regular primary elections including four with Senate races.

Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas will begin choosing their nominees for the Senate and their entire slate of down ballot races. Each is a run-off state, and two of the aforementioned, Alabama and Texas, appear headed for a secondary Senate primary contest later in March and May, respectively. The regular California primary is also scheduled, but there is no Senate election in the Golden State this year. We will, however, see 53 sets of US House general election participants advance to the general election from their top-two jungle primary system.

In Alabama, former US attorney general and senator Jeff Sessions is attempting a political comeback. Retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville and US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) are his chief opponents. Former Alabama Supreme Court chief judge Roy Moore is also on the ballot, but polling suggests he will not even break into double digits.

Sessions ad

Sessions launched two new ads in the last couple days, one that promotes himself as a strong supporter of, and the best person to implement the Trump agenda. The second is an attack ad against Tuberville, hitting him with audio of the retired coach saying we need immigrants coming across the border for certain jobs and that Tuberville actually lives and pays taxes in Florida.

Tuberville ad

Earlier, Tuberville was running a statewide ad reminding the electorate that President Trump fired Sessions as attorney general and that choosing him for the post was the president’s top regret during his tenure in office. Rep. Byrne has been simultaneously running a negative spot jointly attacking both of his top opponents.

The most likely pair to advance into the run-off are Sessions and Tuberville. The secondary election is scheduled for March 31.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R) is virtually re-elected. Democrats failed to file a candidate against him, meaning Tuesday’s primary is a non-event for the first-term senator. He will advance into the general against only minor party opposition.

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Within a Week . . .

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 27, 2020 — Now, just two days away from the South Carolina primary and a mere five from Super Tuesday, it’s time to again determine candidate progress for what is arguably the most important primary election day of this presidential nomination cycle.


Currently, now that the Nevada Democratic Party has ostensibly tabulated the remaining caucus preference sheets from last Saturday’s Nevada vote, the aggregate bound delegate count gives Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) the lead with 45, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg is second at 26, former vice president Joe Biden posts 15, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) eight, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar holds seven. These numbers will change significantly by this time next week. A total of 1,398 delegate votes will be bound on Super Tuesday evening and 18 states and one territory will have completed their voting process.

We’ve had some polling movement in several of the Super Tuesday states that make a tight race even closer. North Carolina, with 110 first ballot delegates, at least according to one polling firm has lapsed into a three-way tie. Spry Strategies (Feb. 21-23; 561 likely North Carolina Democratic primary voters) finds former VP Biden, ex-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Sen. Sanders locked into a three-way tie, each with 20 percent support. None of the other candidates appear close to the 15 percent delegate allocation threshold in the Tar Heel State.

The new Public Policy Polling North Carolina survey turns in similar numbers (Feb. 23-24; 852 likely North Carolina Democratic primary voters) with Biden leading Sanders and Bloomberg, 23-20-17 percent, respectively. PPP agrees with Spry in projecting that only these three men will qualify for delegates. Such a split, assuming the congressional delegation allocation yields the same ratio, would find each of the three candidates receiving approximately 35-37 first-ballot votes.

The latest YouGov poll (Feb. 6-18; 1,352 likely Texas Democratic primary voters; online) also finds a tie, but this time in the Lone Star State with again three candidates winning bound delegates. The data finds Biden and Sanders tied with 20 percent, and Sen. Warren getting into delegate contention with 17 percent. If the actual Texas votes break similarly to this ratio, it would mean Bloomberg would fail to qualify for at-large delegates, leading to a fight for delegate allocation within each of the 31 state Senate districts. While other states divide by congressional districts, Texas uses state Senate seats.

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Biden’s Good and Bad News

By Jim Ellis

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Feb. 19, 2020 — Despite former Vice President Joe Biden’s poor performance in Iowa and New Hampshire, the latest available data suggests his presidential campaign status is not as dire as some in the media are prognosticating.

There have only been five Nevada Caucus polls released since the first of the year and the most recent one appears potentially unreliable. Point Blank Associates actually finds Tom Steyer leading the poll conducted over the Feb. 13-15 period, in a 19-16-14-13-13 percent count over Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former mayor, Pete Buttigieg. This poll has a sample size of only 256 respondents, thus making the error factor unacceptably high.

On the other hand, WPA Intelligence went into the field over the Feb. 11-13 period with a more reasonable sample size of 413 individuals who are described as likely voters. In contrast with the Point Blank result, WPAi finds Sen. Sanders leading the field, a conclusion more consistent with previously released polls. According to WPA, the split is 25-18-13-11-10-10 percent, with Biden in second place followed consecutively by Warren, Steyer, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar.

Therefore, while Biden is not leading either of these Nevada polls, he looks to be in range for potential delegate allocation. Obtaining delegate votes in Nevada will put him in better position to rebound for Super Tuesday, and particularly so if he can hold on to win in South Carolina.

The new East Carolina University survey still finds Biden leading the field in the Palmetto State as he has in every poll conducted in January, early February, and all of last year. East Carolina (Feb. 12-13; 703 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters) projects Biden to a 28-20-14 percent lead over Sanders and Steyer, respectively. All others fall below 10 percent support.

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Sessions in Trouble

By Jim Ellis

Former US attorney general and Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions (R)

Feb. 13, 2020 — Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy conducted a new poll (Feb. 4-6; 400 likely Alabama Republican primary voters) of the Alabama Senate race and though former US attorney general and ex-Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions, still leads in what is a tightening Republican primary, peeling away the underlying data suggests that he could find rough going in an inevitable run-off election.

The M-D results find Sessions leading only 31-29 percent over former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) trails with 17 percent, but well ahead of former Alabama Supreme Court chief judge and 2017 special election Senate nominee Roy Moore who posts just five percent support.

Sessions’ numbers have declined significantly since he entered the race, obviously suggesting a downward trend pointing to a more serious situation when further seeing that his name identification is universal.

With a significant double-digit margin between the top two poll finishers and Rep. Byrne, it becomes highly likely that both Sessions and Tuberville would advance to a run-off election. Neither is positioned to win the nomination outright, however. With Sessions nowhere close to a majority and, after considering his long political history in the state and 100% name identification among Republican primary voters and his current tepid ballot test numbers, it would not be surprising to see Tuberville overtake him in a one-on-one battle.

Another clue that Sessions has political problems is his favorability index as detected in the Mason-Dixon poll. According to their cell responses, Sessions carries a 49:18 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio among Republican primary voters, which looks positive on the surface, but after overlaying the pervasive name ID percentage it becomes clear that half of the respondents fail to have a positive impression.

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